Heart attack???? What?? (Day 1)
As we walked back to the exam room I can’t even describe how I felt. Part of me went completely numb, kind of like robot mode, and another part of me felt like my whole world was spinning. Then there was my maternal instinct… I looked at my daughter and I wanted to protect her.. Mama bear mode. My emotions and my brain were everywhere and I think I just stood there looking like a deer in the headlights. So I am pretty sure no one there could read me or figure out how I was feeling and quite frankly I didn’t much care.
When we get to where Hubby was, it was LITERALLY like Greys Anatomy. Nurses and people everywhere.. total chaos. They were asking him questions, asking me questions, stripping off his clothes, hooking him up to all kinds of things and all in a fury of very controlled professional panic. Hubby was awake and talking but you could tell he was out of it. I found out later from his records that his blood sugar had went up even higher. I still cannot believe how high.
My daughter and I stood back and tried to stay out of the way. You are probably wondering why we were allowed in the room and as I look back I honestly think they didn’t feel he would make it and wanted us to be with him. He was as critical as you can get and it was about to get worse.. believe it or not.
They got him prepped and ready for the Cath lab. He needed to be checked for blockages and a whole slew of other tests. They instructed us to say goodbye because we could not go with him. This was when I felt some raw emotions start to surface but they just had to wait. I had to keep my wits about me.. for our daughter and for Hubby. Don’t want to fall apart yet.. NOT YET. As we gave our kisses and hugs it was over an oxygen mask, probes, and things I still don’t know the name of. At this point he was noticeably uncomfortable and breathing strangely and a little more unaware of his surroundings than earlier. My daughter and I looked at each other and didn’t have to say it.. we were both thinking the same thing. WOW.. this is REALLY bad. WOW.. what just happened? WOW.. IS this really happening? And they wheeled him off and a very kind nurse walked us to the waiting room. Thankfully it was a very quiet evening at the hospital. They put us in a waiting room that was used for day appointments so we could have some peace and privacy. The nurse then proceeded to explain to us what would happen and what to expect. She was just so consoling and so nice. This woman definitely picked the right profession. I asked for coffee because I KNEW it was going to become my lifeline for at least the next 24 hours.. little did I know, I was going to find out that my beloved coffee would end up being pointless when you haven’t slept in weeks.
With coffee in hand and my daughter appeased for the moment with a snack ( I really don’t think she was fully grasping all of this yet) I had to focus. I had to compile my thoughts and think of what to do first. Even though I was still pretty together.. no breakdowns yet.. I could feel this huge weight begin to hover over me. I was starting to feel overwhelmed and I needed to get organized and control it before it controlled me.
My childhood has a lot to do with the way I handle crisis and emotion. I am a very emotional person. Unlike my Hubby who is stoic and holds things in I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve in almost every situation… EXCEPT in times of crisis. I literally become a General and get myself ready to fix the problem. I grew up in very dysfunctional circumstances.. that’s another book.. and it molded me. I had to ALWAYS depend on myself and it has made me VERY independent. So much so that I have a hard time letting anyone do anything for me or with me. I just always want to be in charge because then you don’t risk getting disappointed or hurt. Not that it has always worked for me but it’s the way I roll and I have never been able to change it. I guess it’s a defense mechanism embedded down deep and I am what I am.
Okay… it’s Sunday. Mmmmmm… School..Work.. OMG!!! WORK!!!! I searched for Hubby’s work phone and tried to call his boss. I got no answer. Now you are probably wondering why I haven’t called family yet… well.. I just wasn’t ready. I didn’t know a lot of details yet and at the moment I think I was only able to handle the local busy work first before I took on the big stuff. Besides, they are all out of state and I don’t want them to come flying here if they don’t have to.
Yes, out of state. Here we are 2 states away and all alone in this horrible situation. My biggest fear come to life. We took the plunge almost 2 years ago and moved a little early to a state we planned on retiring to. Our boys were grown and on their own, our oldest daughter was in college and our baby was 10. So when Hubby’s company was building a new plant in sunny Tennessee and they wanted him on the team we couldn’t resist the opportunity. Leaving our home, family, kids, and friends was the big concern. I had it in my fairy tale head that all my kids, including my grandson would end up down here as well. It would all be good and we would all eventually be together. Well.. fairy tales aren’t real and only exist in books. And here we are 2 years later and still here without them.
With no family here and no close friends, at that moment when I was organizing a plan of action, I felt COMPLETELY alone. I was in a very quiet waiting room, in a strange hospital I have never been to, in the middle of a situation that hasn’t even begun to sink in and I had some very big decisions to make ON MY OWN. And all the while having to stay together for my sweet daughter who could very possibly lose her Father at the age of 12.
I decided to text Hubby’s boss and finally got a hold of him. After he got over the shock he acted like a friend and not a boss. Was willing to help in anyway and took care of many things that lightened my load at that moment. So thankful.
Then there was our daughter. What to do there? Should we have her go back to her normal schedule? Should she stay here? I then had a light bulb go off and remembered that her best friend/neighbor was not too far from the hospital at a hitting lesson. I got a hold of them to see if they would be willing to swing by and get her and get her off to school the next day. That would buy me 24 hrs and that relieved me. It was laying heavy on me how to handle her in this situation and that 24 hours was precious in figuring it all out.
Work.. check. Daughter.. check. At this point I am feeling a little more focused. And ready to move on to the next task. I also just realized I brought nothing here for myself. I would have never guessed it would all be THIS serious so I had only packed for him. Here comes my inner Scarlett again.. I will worry about that tomorrow. I look over and here comes the doctor. Stomach hits floor.. forced deep breaths.. and bracing myself with what little General Char I have left.
He asks me to sit down.. never a good sign.
He goes on to explain to me that Hubby had a massive heart attack probably within the last 24 hours, he is in complete diabetic shock, which is where the diabetes.. diabetes he didn’t know he had.. is literally breaking down everything in your body and was what probably brought on the heart attack. He had 2 stents put in to open up blockages in his arteries AND his heart is only working at 10% and could have suffered severe damage. I felt like I was a cartoon character and I had a word bubble at the top of my head and all his words were scrambled in there and swirling around and my head was spinning like Spongebob’s when he goes a little crazy. I can’t imagine the look on my face. A look I am quite sure this doctor is very familiar with. I just don’t know how they do this part of their job. I will soon learn over 17 days just how special doctors and nurses are.
The next thing he would tell me really made it real. “We have to life-flight him to Nashville because we are not equipped to handle the seriousness of his condition here. He needs to be at St. Thomas West immediately. It’s a heart hospital and he will be in the very best of hands.” Every sad movie and soap opera scene I had ever watched just came running through my head like a highlight reel. I just couldn’t believe this was happening.
I look over and our neighbors were here to pick up my daughter. Perfect timing because I needed to THINK. As I was organizing things with them that same nurse came back and wanted to know if I had any questions and if I knew how to get to the hospital. Of course I didn’t.. I pretty much don’t know how to get to ANYTHING around here! She wanted to explain to me just how serious this is and thought it would be a good idea for us to go back and spend a minute with him before he gets in the helicopter. I really still believe they truly were not optimistic about his chances and thought we better see him because by all indication they couldn’t be positive he would make it to Nashville. I asked our neighbor if he would mind waiting and he was happy to. I felt so bad they had to be there seeing all this first hand. Listening to what the nurse said and having to watch our faces as we hear it. Not an easy place to be. They were so helpful and supportive and I will always be grateful to them for being there when they were.
They took us back where they were prepping him for flight and seeing him like that was surreal. Again, it felt like a medical drama.. not real. He was covered in all kinds of contraptions and it was hard to hug and kiss him. I let my daughter go first and I have NO idea how I held it together when she told him goodbye. Surprisingly, Hubby was awake and seemed to be aware of and responsive to what we were saying. But I later learned he remembers none of it.
I remember stroking his hair and telling him I loved him. I also felt this need to smell his hair and feel his skin.. like it could be the last time. I wanted to do it as long as they would let me. I kept thinking I need to smell his scent and touch his warm skin because it may be my last chance and we all know the first thing they lose when they are gone are those precious signs of life and I wanted to soak it in. And in true Tennessee fashion the life-flight nurses asked if we could pray over Hubby before he leaves and we GLADLY obliged and were very thankful. It was at that moment it finally hit me.. God… O my sweet Jesus… I need you. It hit me like a brick falling out of Heaven.. God knew I was taking way too long to turn to him and He spoke to me thru those nurses. And He also knew I was going to need all the strength I could get and a friend by my side to handle what was to come. And the first hill to climb was making that phone call I had been dreading.
Now as a Mother my first thought was how do I handle telling my Mother-in-Law. How would I want to hear the news. Now being so far away a phone call was the only way but I still didn’t want her to be alone and I really wanted her to be told in person. Knowing our youngest son lived the closest to her I called him first…
“Hey Momma!” My son says with excitement that I’ve called. “Hi honey… I’m just gonna get to the point because I don’t know how else to do it. I am at the hospital and Dad has had a heart attack and it’s very serious… (gulp gulp gulp.. silence… deep breaths.. can’t lose it yet.. still not time.. suck it up General.. here comes the to do’s and the orders) this is what I need you to do so listen carefully.”…………….
Until next time.. be a blessing… share a blessing.. be blessed xoxo
2 thoughts on “17 Days.. Chapter 4”
Oh Char…. So hard for you I am sure. Not knowing what they are saying in those medical terms must have been overwhelming. The amount of pressure an illness puts on your family is unbelievable. I truly feel your pain…. Remember to try and care for yourself in all this fast paced change.
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Thank you Sally.. as you know overwhelming is a good word to describe it all. Its hard to find time to write this story but it seems to help me and I hope it helps someone else out there too 🙂